BBB Advises Homeowners on How to Avoid Scams with Lawn Care Services
April is National Lawn Care Month and it comes just in time for the snow to melt and lawns to begin blooming once more. However, it’s also the time for lawn care services to offer their services to customers.
But the Better Business Bureau in Lehigh Valley, PA, said that last year the organization received hundreds of complaints regarding lawn care companies. Everything from poor workmanship and damage to lawns to failure to honor warranties was reported and some of the companies were just outright scams.
The BBB has advice on how to avoid such scams, including not hiring companies that demand payment in advance.
Homeowners are also advised to shop around rather than simply hiring the first company that shows up at their doors.
Customers should know what they want ahead of time; if they are looking for natural or organic lawncare services, they should be able to ask the company what types of products they use.
“I would recommend doing in depth research, and that goes for anything in general, not just lawn care,” says Tracy Harrison, Customer Service, NaturaLawn of America-Chicagoland. “Read reviews, look at social media pages to find out what people are saying about the particular company you are looking to hire.”
One sure sign of a scam, according to the BBB, is any company that quotes a price without actually looking at a homeowner’s lawn. Lawn care services should also give prices for any additional services that are required.
Homeowners should also do some research to find out whether the company is licensed locally. Whether they use subcontractors or their own employees, the company should also have liability insurance for workers in case they are injured on the job.
Prospective lawn care customers can also search on the Better Business Bureau’s website at bbb.org and ask the company for references or affiliations with national franchises.
Homeowners need to examine contracts and understand what they’re getting. They may also have to investigate what kind of recourse they have if they don’t like the work.
That’s what happened to one customer in Whitehall Township, PA, who paid a local company $5,400 for landscaping services. Unfortunately, the work never got finished.
Curt Reinsmith said that Crewcut Lawn Care left work unfinished from November 2013. Although the company had installed landscaping beds, they didn’t finish reconstructing a small brick walkway in his lawn and never removed tree stumps from his backyard, either.
Five of the companies’ customers filed lawsuits against them for similar reasons and many more complained to the BBB.
Above all, reading reviews online and shopping around is the way to go, said the BBB. Customers should get estimates — in writing — from at least three different companies, but they should remember that cost isn’t everything when compared to the level of service they receive.